Maryland Enacts Law to Require Paid Family and Medical Leave
- The Act establishes a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund (the “Fund”) and instructs the Maryland Secretary of Labor to adopt regulations no later than June 1, 2023. Beginning October 1, 2023, employees, employers, and self-employed individuals must begin making contributions to the Fund. Covered workers can begin receiving benefits on January 1, 2025. This new requirement is in addition to Maryland law requiring paid sick leave.
- Leave for which benefits may be paid under the Act is job protected. The Act requires employers to restore an employee to an equivalent position of employment upon the expiration of the leave. Employers must also maintain an employee’s health insurance coverage.
- The Act provides for partial wage replacement of up to 90% of the employee’s average weekly wages, with a maximum weekly benefit amount of $1,000. Starting January 1, 2026, the maximum weekly benefit will be adjusted annually to reflect the annual percentage growth of the area’s Consumer Price Index.
- Employees who have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which the leave is to begin are “covered individuals” under the Act. Self-employed individuals may also elect to participate in the program.
- Covered employers include any person or governmental authority that employs at least one individual in the state of Maryland.
- An employee generally may not receive more than 12 weeks of benefits in an application year (i.e., the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the week in which an employee applies for benefits). However, an employee may receive an additional 12 weeks of benefits if the individual qualifies for both family leave (i.e., bonding with a new child) and a medical leave due to their own serious health condition in the same application year. Leave benefits will be available on a continuous or intermittent basis; however, an employee may not take intermittent leave in an increment of less than 4 hours.
- Benefits will be available for the following covered reasons: (1) to care for a child during the first year after the child’s birth or after the placement of the child through foster care, kinship care or adoption, (2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition, (3) for the employee’s own serious health condition that results in their being unable to perform the functions of their position, (4) to care for a service member who is the employee’s next of kin, or (5) for a qualifying exigency arising out of the deployment of a service member who is a family member of the employee.
- A covered employer can also satisfy the Act’s requirements through a private employer-plan that meets or exceeds the benefits and coverages provided in the Act and is approved by the Maryland Department of Labor. An employer that elects the private plan option (and its employees) will be exempt from the contribution requirements.
We recommend all employers with even just one (1) employee in Maryland update their Employee Handbook to ensure compliance with this new requirement.